High school basketball: Announcer directs racist comments at Norman High girls on state tournament live stream

Joe Buettner, The Norman Transcript, Okla.
·3 min read

Mar. 12—During the playing of the United States national anthem ahead of Norman High and Midwest City's game on Thursday, an announcer was heard making racist comments toward NHS players on a feed streaming the Class 6A girls state quarterfinals.

The individual's comments, which were shared in a video posted to Twitter Friday morning, were made after noticing the NHS players were kneeling during the national anthem.

"They're kneeling? F***** n*****," stated the individual.

"I hope Norman gets their ass kicked. F*** them. I hope they lose. C'mon Midwest City. They're gonna kneel like that? Hell no."

The play-by-play crew was contracted by the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Association to announce the game on a National Federation of High School (NFHS) Network online stream.

In a statement, the OSSAA said it would not use the play-by-play crew, which is based out of Tahlequah, for the rest of its championship games.

"On behalf of the NFHS Network and the OSSAA, we sincerely apologize that this happened at one of our events," OSSAA executive director David Jackson said. "While we are currently investigating the incident, this crew will not be doing any more games for the remainder of our championships. This kind of behavior will never be tolerated by anyone representing the NFHS or OSSAA."

The NFHS Network said it is "aggressively investigating the incident" and assures it will end all relationships with the individuals involved.

Norman Public Schools said it will no longer rely on the network to broadcast its games and that it supports its players, who have been kneeling before each game since mid-January.

"We fully support our students' right to freedom of expression and our immediate focus is to support these girls and their coaches and families, particularly our Black students and coaching staff," NPS Superintendent Dr. Nick Migliorino said in a statement.

"It is tragic that the hard work and skill of this team is being overshadowed by the vile, malignant words of these individuals. We will do everything in our power to support and uplift our team and everyone affected by this incident."

Several NHS players responded to the video via their social media accounts, including senior post Chantae Embry, who is signed to play with Texas Tech.

"People want to know why we kneel," Embry tweeted, "here's a prime example of why we do it. I'm proud of my team and I for using our voices and being heard."

The players were flooded with messages on social media, including Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister, who offered her support for NHS' student-athletes.

"The remarks made were sickening and vile," Hofmeister said in a statement. "It is critical on all of us to be clear that racism has no place in society and must never be tolerated, especially in our public schools. My heart aches for the young female athletes who were subjected to this hateful and disgusting tirade."

The NHS girls are scheduled to face Tulsa Union at 4 p.m. today in Sapulpa. The winner will advance to Saturday's state championship game.

Joe Buettner

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jbuettner@normantranscript.com